FBI Examined 15 Bigfoot Hairs, Newly Released Documents Reveal

In 1977 the Scientific and Technical Services Division of the FBI examined a clump of 15 hairs, studying the hair roots, internal structures, cuticle thickness and scaling patterns under a microscope to determine if the hair came from an anomalous, furry primate stalking the forests of North America—a Bigfoot. The FBI ultimately concluded the hairs belonged to "a member of the deer family" and returned the sample.

The FBI's short-lived investigation into Bigfoot was revealed in documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from John Greenewald of The Black Vault, a site specializing in declassified government records, and subsequently released by the FBI on Wednesday.

A clump of hair and skin obtained by monster hunter Peter Byrne, who also sought out the Yeti in Nepal. FBI

The sample was originally obtained by the now-defunct Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition in Oregon. The tourist center's director, Peter Byrne, a well-known monster hunter who would later appear on In Search Of..., mailed the FBI in 1976 to request testing of the tissue sample, which he believed to be from a Bigfoot.

"We do not often come across hair which we are unable to identify and the hair that we have now, about 15 hairs attached to a tiny piece of skin, is the first that we have obtained in six years which we feel may be of importance," Byrne wrote.

He found a friendly ear in FBI Assistant Director Jay Cochran Jr., who wrote back:

"The FBI Laboratory conducts examinations primarily of physical evidence for law enforcement agencies in connection with criminal investigations. Occasionally, on a case-by-case basis, in the interest of research and scientific inquiry, we make exceptions to this general policy. With this understanding, we will examine the hairs and tissue mentioned in your letter."

Byrne's request to the FBI wasn't out of the blue. In 1974, the Army Corps of Engineers released a Washington State atlas with a page on Bigfoot sightings in the state, paired with an anecdote about a supposed FBI analysis of Bigfoot hair, which had concluded the sample tested didn't come from a "presently-known animal."

Cochran could find no reference to any such examination in the FBI Laboratory records (he even reached out to the editor of the Army Atlas, who was also unable to substantiate the anecdote), but used his authority to push for an examination of Byrne's hairs, citing previous examples of the Bureau helping museums and universities "in archaeological matters and in the interest of research and legitimate scientific inquiry."

The Fouke Monster, a Southern-fried version of Bigfoot, as seen on the movie poster for "The Legend of Boggy Creek." Howco International Pictures

The results were undoubtedly disappointing to Byrne and the B.I.C., as the FBI concluded "that the hairs are of deer family origin" after examinations conducted under microscope, including direct comparisons with "hairs of known origin."